Composite plants, with transgenic roots on a non-transgenic shoot, can be obtained by shoot explant transformation with Agrobacterium rhizogenes. The aim of this study was to generate composite potato plants (Solanum tuberosum) to be used as a model system in future studies on root-pathogen interactions and gene silencing in the roots. The proportion of transgenic roots among the roots induced was high (80-100 %) in the four potato cultivars tested (Albatros, Desirée, Sabina and Saturna). No wild-type adventitious roots were formed at mock inoculation site. All strains of A. rhizogenes tested induced phenotypically normal roots which, however, showed a reduced response to cytokinin as compared with non-transgenic roots. Nevertheless, both types of roots were infected to a similar high rate with the zoospores of Spongospora subterranea, a soilborne potato pathogen. The transgenic roots of composite potato plants expressed significantly higher amounts of β-glucuronidase (GUS) than the roots of a GUS-transgenic potato line event. Silencing of the uidA transgene (GUS) was tested by inducing roots on the GUS-transgenic cv. Albatros event with strains of A. rhizogenes over-expressing either the uidA sense or antisense transcripts, or inverted-repeat or hairpin uidA RNA. The three last mentioned constructs caused 2.5-4.0 fold reduction in the uidA mRNA expression. In contrast, over-expression of uidA resulted in over 3-fold increase in the uidA mRNA and GUS expression, indicating that sense-mediated silencing (co-suppression) was not functional in roots. The results suggest that composite plants offer a useful experimental system for potato research, which has gained little previous attention.
Plant Cell Reports, 2014, Vol 33, Issue 12, p. 1977-1992